Categories: Concert Reviews

Michel Pagliaro with Tomi Swick at the Phoenix Concert Theatre

Photos by Lee-Ann Richer

Michel Pagliaro returns to Toronto after a three decade absence!

The Phoenix Concert Theatre was the host to Q107’s, Psychedelic Sunday with Michel Pagliaro & Tomi Swick for “Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival”.

The evening started at 8:45pm with Hammertown boy, singer-songwriter Tomi Swick taking the stage. Tomi, hailing from Hamilton, won a Juno for best new artist and a nomination for the pop record of the year with his debut album “Stalled out in the Doorway” in 2007.

Tomi performed a number of songs off his latest CD “The Yukon Motel” starting the evening with “Wake Me Up”. This artist and his band were started the evening with a blast of rock n roll. There was a wide array of styles to his songs but the common denominator was you couldn’t resist stomping away to each and every one. Tomi was supported by the foundation of a rock solid drummer Dave King and bassist Dennis Napper. We had the pleasure of listening to lead trade-offs by steel player Mick Alonzo and lead guitarist Joel Guenther.

Tomi introduced each song with a stories, memories, and humorous anecdotes. This gave the audience a personal connection to the lyrics. He is a huge advocate of his hometown, Hamilton. Hamilton was central to many of his stories and he proudly displayed his “Hamilton is Home” T-shirt.

The set closed with the band playing The Band cover “The Shape I’m In” and one more song that rocked so hard he was soaked and his guitar was covered in sweat. He had the audience, and his guitar, in a frenzy. As we watched the sweat roll down his guitar, we noticed the D sting was the first to lose its life. This was followed by his A string, and so on, until he was down to just his E string! An amazing way to close the set!

Sounds like the end of the review doesn’t it? NOPE! After getting more than your money’s worth with Tomi, the headliner took the stage!

Michel Pagliaro’s (Pag to his fans!) last show in Toronto was 30 years ago when he opened for Peter Frampton during the Frampton Comes Alive tour. Michel started playing the guitar at age 11 and by the time he was 27 he was nominated for 1975 Juno award as male vocalist of the year. In addition, his list of attributes includes being awarded Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (2008) and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010). He was also the first Canadian Artist to score hits in the top 40 charts in both English and French.

Pag’s band started the set before the Montreal superstar appeared. Pag was wearing is signature outfit of jeans and jean jacket and dark glasses. With his shaggy long hair he looked a bit like he walked out of the band the Grateful Dead.

Just like Tomi Swick there was no slow intro leading you into the set, it was BANG and they were rocking the house like it was the last song of the set!

By now the venue was packed with his fans, many whom knew lyrics to both English and French songs! Pag mentioned there were going to be songs in each language and joked saying “if you don’t understand them you might learn something” (said in a very friendly tone). What was interesting is, the music was SO good that you didn’t care which language it was in, it’s all rock n roll.

At one point he introduced the band or as he called them his “wonders from heaven” and each had their moment in the spotlight. The guitar solos were amazing! Not the wanky ones that you think,” kill me now, finish already”. This was a show that could have rocked ACC however we had the bonus of a big show on an intimate stage.

His set list was very versatile from folk, to country hoedown, to blues and rock and they were all played with amazing dynamics that you see with seasoned players.

His set list included some of his most popular songs “Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy” (1971), “Rainshowers” (1972), “Some Sing Some Dance” (1972), and “What The Hell I Got” (1975).

Afterwards he came out and met with some fans! Classy!

These two bands complimented each other perfectly and was a show worth way more than the ticket price. Thank you to “Randy Charlton, Zeke Myers and Lisa Zbitnew at the Phoenix, and both bands for an evening of great music and song writing!



Trent Richer

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.

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